To your health

To your health by Pam Schaefer Ham serves as the centerpiece for many family holiday meals. Ham is pork which comes from the hind leg of a hog. The ham leg is one of the leanest pork cuts according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One three-ounce serving contains about 145 calories, five grams fat and 21 grams protein.

Ham is a great source of protein and one of the richest sources of the B vitamin, thiamin. Fresh pork is low in sodium, but during curing, sodium is added. A serving of ham can contain as much as half the recommended daily intake of sodium. It is important to eat a balanced diet and enjoy ham in moderation.

There are many varieties of ham available in the supermarket. Ham can be fresh, cured, canned or smoked. Bone-in ham is a popular choice for spring brunches, formal dinners or holiday buffets. Bone-in hams are available in a variety of shapes � whole, shank and rump.

Generally, you can plan for one to two servings per pound of meat for a ham with a large bone. A ham which is sealed in heavy plastic will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Cooking a bone-in ham is easy because it is virtually hands-free. Most hams on the market are fully cooked and are label as such. When you are ready to prepare your bone-in or boneless ham, typically plan for 20 minutes per pound of meat. Always refer to the package for cooking instructions for best results.

Whenever possible, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Fully-cooked ham should be heated to an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Uncooked ham should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

If your appetite is not big enough to finish your holiday feast, refrigerate leftovers within two hours by removing all meat from the bone and storing in a shallow pan. Leftover ham may also be frozen for up to two months.

Here are a few ways to use those leftovers and ham it up:

* Top a cold pasta salad with diced ham.

* Add strips of ham to macaroni and cheese.

* Cook the bone in a pot with Great Northern beans and serve with cornbread.

* Use chopped ham in your favorite omelet.

* Use sliced ham to make and egg and ham biscuit.

* Make barbecue ham sandwiches.

* Roll up a ham-and-cheese wrap.

* Grill ham and cheese quesadillas.

* Top a baked potato with ham cubes.

For more nutrition information and healthy recipes, go to and click on health and recipes.

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